Alumna Emma Hamrick '16 is a Michigan native who graduated from Florida Southern with degrees in Advertising/Public Relations and Sports Communications/Marketing. Now, she's working on the Digital Marketing team for The Walt Disney Studios.
Jan 16, 2020
Michigan native, Emma Hamrick ’16 graduated from Florida Southern with degrees in Advertising/Public Relations and Sports Communications/Marketing. After graduation, her love for Disney movies and the experiences gained at FSC led Emma to work at The Happiest Place on Earth: Walt Disney Studios. In addition, this ambitions alum is currently studying at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism where she will receive her Masters Degree in Communications Management.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
I'm native to Rochester, Michigan!
What did you major in at FSC?
I was a double major in Advertising/Public Relations and Sports Communications/Marketing. I graduated in 2016.
Did you receive any awards or recognition during college?
I received the award in Outstanding Freshman of the Year and Outstanding Junior of the Year from the Comm Department. I also was the Winner of Winter 2016 for my Fiat Lux presentation on “Effects of Second Screen on Traditional Television Advertising.”
What inspired your career path?
I always knew I wanted to go into the field of communications. I grew up writing short stories and novels and I loved expressing my thoughts and feelings through creative storytelling. In high school, I was editor in chief of the yearbook, which helped me find more creative outlets through layout and design. I also grew up watching Disney films and vacationing to the theme parks, so applying my passion for communications with my love for Disney came together to create a perfect career path.
Why did you choose to attend FSC?
I grew up a huge fan of the Detroit Tigers, and for a long time, I wanted to work in sports communications. I decided to look at FSC because Lakeland is where the Tigers have their spring training. I also wanted to go to a small school where I’d receive individualized attention and could take on a double major course load. I toured FSC as a junior in high school and fell in love with the campus and curriculum. That’s when I decided that FSC was the school for me.
Describe your experience within your major at FSC.
I adored the Communications Department and tried my best to get as involved as possible early on. I worked on the broadcast shows, became an editor for the newspaper, took every opportunity available to attend guest speaker presentations, took internship opportunities, and participated in networking events. As the only Honors student in my cohort, I balanced a rigorous course schedule of 18-22 credits each semester. I was almost always working on projects late at night in the Dockery Lab.
What professors at FSC did you have the best experience with and why?
The first class I ever attended at FSC was Desktop Publishing with Professor Bob Drake. I met some of my best friends in that 8 a.m. class and really developed a comradery that helped me through college. Professor Drake’s classes focused on the application of teachings outside of the course. I can confidently say that I use the lessons I learned from Professor Drake on a daily basis in my career.
Dr. Mike Trice saw my passion for writing and asked me to join the staff of The Southern my freshman year. His trust in me to lead the staff as editor-in-chief and the opportunities he provided taught me valuable lessons about meeting project deadlines and serving as a leader.
I owe a great deal of my opportunities to Dr. Mary Crowe. She served as one of two professors in my first-semester Honors course. She was a tough professor and we came from very different backgrounds. Early on, she connected me with a Detroit-area alum, William (Bill) Chope. Over the summer, I was given a marketing role supporting his Crest Lincoln dealership near my hometown in Michigan. The internship experience I accumulated between my first and second years opened the doors to so many opportunities. It was so comforting to have faculty cheering me on throughout my college experience.
Tell us about your research.
As part of the Honors curriculum, I researched, wrote, and presented an individual thesis in my final semester at FSC. It ended up winning Fiat Lux, the annual thesis competition. I was incredibly honored to receive the accolade considering that many of my competitors were presenting complex biology and psychology projects. As the only presenter from the communications department that semester, I was very proud to represent the department and justify the impact of communications research. The process of conducting research has been helpful as I’ve pursued higher education at the University of Southern California.
How do you believe FSC contributed to your success?
It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for Florida Southern. The experiential learning opportunities, dynamic coursework, and passionate staff afforded me so many opportunities. I entered the working world incredibly prepared, and I owe that preparation to the lessons I learned at FSC.
What extracurriculars were you involved in at FSC?
I was Editor-in-Chief (and previously Sports Editor) of The Southern, a member of FPRA and AdFed, and supervisor of the Admission’s Office’s telecounseling program. I also was a featured presenter and host for countless Scholars Weekends and Day On Campus programs, and had three internships during college career.
Talk to us about your job today.
I work on the Digital Marketing team for The Walt Disney Studios, specifically on the Disney+ projects coming out of the Studio. Previously, I worked in Digital Marketing and Partnerships for ABC Entertainment. I started my career with Disney immediately following my graduation from FSC as a Synergy Marketing intern for Disney Parks and Resorts in Celebration, FL. where I worked on cultivating internal partnerships with the Studio.
What do you like most about what you do now?
There’s nothing quite like walking into work every morning and knowing Walt Disney walked the same ground. Working for a world-renowned company is a humbling experience. I grew up on Disney films, so knowing that the projects I work on shape the lives of future generations is an indescribable experience. Working in digital marketing means constantly evolving campaigns to reach audiences in new, groundbreaking ways. I love pushing the envelope to create inspiring storytelling online. Also, being a part of the ambitious launch of Disney+ has been the best experience of my career. I’m constantly surrounded by some of the best marketing minds in the industry and it’s been so exciting to see the anticipation building for this new product.
What does a day in the life of a digital marketer at Disney look like?
The best part of working in marketing is that no two days are the same. Sometimes, I’m working with film talent at press junkets to capture content for fun, shareable videos. Other times, I’m collaborating with our platform partners to learn about new ways to break through the clutter on social media. I spend a lot of time in meetings learning about upcoming titles and brainstorming ways to translate the stories into online content. I also work with social agencies to creatively direct new content which I then post across all of our social media platforms. I wake up every morning excited to go to work and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world.
What are your plans going forward?
I’m hoping to continue my career within the Walt Disney Company. I’m very lucky to have found my dream career so early on.
What have you learned in the field that may have been different from what you learned while studying?
At the end of the day, your GPA and project portfolio don’t give you your dream career. Understanding gatekeeping theory and identifying the four P’s of marketing are important, but it’s understanding the strategic applications of those concepts that allow you to reach the next level. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that ambition and passion for what you do, propels success. If you’re constantly working to be the best version of yourself and taking opportunities as they come, you’ll end up where you’re meant to be
What advice would you give current students or young alumni?
Take the interview, even if you aren’t confident you’ll get the job. Take the job, even if you aren’t sure you’re the right fit. Make the move across the country, even if you’re scared to leave your friends and family. Every opportunity that I’ve been afforded has come because I took the risk. My mom always told me, “everything happens for a reason,” and I spent far too many sleepless nights wondering if those words were true. Now, having found my path and followed my dreams, I’m confident that taking risks has allowed me to reach heights that I never knew were imaginable.
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